Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway

"Chicken fried steak, is that all you eat?" Alice asked with a quiet laugh.

"That's a trucker's staple on the road. Trucking wouldn't be the same without it and the more grease the better!" I bragged.

"No wonder a lot of you walk around looking constipated," she laughed.

"Hey, now!" I scolded.

It was nice to eat breakfast with a companion. Not just one of the guys, but a prospective companion of closer intentions. The breakfast consisted of small talk, but it felt comfortable. Alice asked if I minded going on a drive to Lincoln to get supplies. I gladly accepted even though I wasn't too excited about traveling on my time off. At least it was with Alice and she would do the driving. I would be able to see the interstate in a pickup and look at it riding shotgun!

Riding shotgun. I remember as a kid when the family would head out somewhere for the day. The three of us boys would hit the door running and screaming, "I got shotgun...No, I do...No, you had it last time!" The usual result was the three of us boys busting it out in a three–way brawl while our sister quietly crawled in shotgun and locked the door. Soon we were told to knock it off if we wanted to go anywhere. The trip would end up as a game between us boys trying to punch one another defiantly while trying not to be detected in the rearview mirror, thus preventing a scolding from the front.

Alice looked beautiful this morning. I hadn't known her so long and whenever I saw her, she was beautiful. The way she laughed and teased was huggable. She was good company across the table and I yearned inside for it not to end. I wanted to be sitting across from her every morning, looking into her beautiful eyes and taking in the warmth of her smile while devouring chicken fried steak. It felt heavenly and, if I could get away with it, we would've sat there across from each other all day. Thankfully, a waitress came to warm up my coffee before I could enter into the outer limits of space daydreaming. For a moment I remembered Alice's first pour of coffee for me. A moment in time I would never forget.

Alice's dad was the one who got the two of us going. "You two going to sit there all day taking up space? Or are you going to get to work and earn your right in this world?"

"Oh, Dad, don't even start!" Alice snarled while winking at me.

Soon Alice and I were in the pickup turning onto the interstate. The trucks on the big road reminded me that I hadn't called in my morning check call. It wasn't the first and, with less than a week to go with the company, it wouldn't matter. Less than a week? Wow, all it would take was a load routed to Phoenix and I'd be launched into a new move in my life. I hadn't told Alice. Should I? And if I did and waited this long, would she be annoyed at me? How was I going to see her while living in Colorado? Or...or...should I move up here? I smiled.

My attention returned to Alice. I was overwhelmed sitting there in the pickup with her. She wore Wrangler jeans, a blouse and roper boots with her hair pony–tailed in the back. She looked all woman and all the woman I would ever want. The aroma of body mist and hair conditioner radiated around her, drawing me as if I were under a tantalizing spell in a fairytale. I found myself inching toward her quietly. I was a fly being caught in the shiny silken web spun by a spider who sat there waiting. Suddenly, with no resistance to the force that seemed to captivate me, I kissed Alice.

My movement and sudden kiss startled Alice. Caught by surprise, she swerved and the right front tire managed to be captured by the shoulder's soft trap, drawing the truck away from the sturdy pavement. Startled, Alice over–steered and tried to return back on the road, causing the truck to skid off the roadway and down the embankment. My heart pounded out of my chest. Just seconds. I felt and heard a sudden crash. Pain racked my body as I crashed through the windshield and my body thudded onto the ground beyond the pickup. There were noises all around me, but they seemed distant. I couldn't understand or make out anything coherently. I was transcended into a world of confusion, stunned, not understanding my surroundings.

It all seemed like a dream. My ride in the meat wagon. My being rolled into the emergency room. Bright lights. Voices and noises. Soon I drifted into a deep sleep from which darkness seemed to envelop my entire being. I fought the darkness with all my might. The darkness won.